Reviewed by Catarina Queiroz
A Journey to the Sea didn’t strike me as an interesting title to start with, and the subtitle A Goddamn Thing or the Unlived Life was too crude for my taste. Nevertheless, after actually reading the book I have to acknowledge that it’s a good combination: The Sea symbolizes the unconscious roots, the depths and the mysteries of the self. If the self never bothers to examine those depths, the pathetic result will be a passive life, an unreal person, an individual that never got around to doing a goddamn thing. Through references to poems, movies, philosophers and poets, this book dares you to reflect on the meaning of your life, or to make your life meaningful, which in the end might turn out to be the exact same thing.
At the heart of Francis Hardie’s argumentation is the Axiom of Maria, an obscure quotation from a 3rd century alchemist: “One becomes two, two becomes three, and out of the third comes the one as the fourth”. Roughly following the interpretation of the psychiatrist Carl Jung, One is the starting point, unconscious wholeness. Two is the differentiation that comes with consciousness or individuality. Three is the effort to solve the conflict or tension between the conscious and unconscious, reaching wholeness again. This resolution is symbolized by Four, which is the same as returning to One. A Journey to the Sea is the journey of the self that goes from passive observer to active entrepreneur of its own life, stepping from conflict to resolution and hopefully reaching wholeness.
Summing things up, I wouldn’t say this book is a masterpiece of existential philosophy, but it has some interesting thoughts and insights into the human condition. If you’re interested in exploring the depths of your being in a witty and somewhat blunt way, with lots of difficult questions and no easy answers, read A Journey to the Sea. You might get bored, or you might get excited with the prospect of actually doing a goddamn thing with your life. Either way, it’s your call.
You Review a Local Author: Books with an orange connection, reviewed by ABC customers.